Customer Problem
Medline Industries, Inc. based in Mundelein, IL is America’s largest privately held national manufacturer and distributor of health care supplies and services. Founded in 1966, the company’s roots date back 90 years, to when it started as a garment manufacturer. With six manufacturing facilities in North America and more than 25 joint venture manufacturing plants worldwide, Medline manufactures hundreds of thousands of products, encompassing medical-surgical items and one of the largest textile lines in the industry. In today’s cost-competitive marketplace, Medline experiences unprecedented pressure to improve production and distribution efficiencies.

Because of the importance of the role of Medline’s products, cost reduction must be accomplished without giving up quality or local availability. In response to pressures in the health-care industry to lower costs, including reduced Medicare reimbursements, Medline has developed some of the most innovative and successful cost-saving solutions in the marketplace.

With such a high volume of production and distribution of products and materials, a significant amount of waste is generated. The disposal of non-recyclable waste products is a product-related expense that many companies automatically assume to be beyond their control – except perhaps to negotiate for the lowest hauling rates.

The Solution
In 2004, while searching for a solution, Medline was introduced to a high-tech, Internet of Things solution that claimed to significantly reduce the cost of waste removal through a two-step process. First, the product accurately measures the fullness of the waste compactor container. Second, it automatically notifies the hauler to pick up a full container. While it sounds simple, complex technology is needed to make the process work smoothly and accurately.

While most company managers scarcely give them a second look, the large waste compactors that are stationed at the rear of many facilities perform an important function. Waste compactors are a surprisingly vital cog in the waste stream. After compressing bulky waste into a large steel container, the trash can be efficiently hauled away with a minimum of pickups by a local hauler. However, it is vital that the container be as full as possible, or the number of pickups and the corresponding expenses will quickly multiply.

Low-tech methods of monitoring fullness, such as pressure gauges, fullness lights (which are switched on by peak pressure readings), counting the number of compactions, and tapping the sides of the container are all grossly inaccurate. They result either in premature pickups (and the added costs) or potentially hazardous and costly overflows.

The OnePlus Waste Edge platform uses a digital pressure sensor to capture every stroke of the compactor ram pressing waste into the container. That data is analyzed by a computerized monitor, which is translated into a remarkably accurate picture of container fullness. When the monitor says the container is full, it automatically notifies the hauler to make a pickup and advises the company that the hauler has been contacted. When the pickup is made, that too is recorded.

The Results
Before Waste Edge, hauler billing indicated that Medline’s container weights varied widely, ranging from 3.5 to 8 tons. When the hauler started picking up only after the Waste Edge call, the pickup weights increased to around 10 tons and have held that level consistently.

By implementing Waste Edge, Medline has reduced hauls from three times a week to just two, saving $800 per month. Now in their 12th year as a OnePlus client, Medline have saved over $100,000 in haulage charges for the first compactor alone and now monitor several more compactors with OnePlus at additional sites.

While Medline’s primary motivation for evaluating the monitor was a reduction in waste hauling expenses, they have also seen other benefits. When workflow varies, there is no need to further alter the hauler agreements or relationships. Medline could go from working overtime one week to a vacation shutdown the next, without ever talking to the hauler. Because the Monitor is watching fullness 24/7, the hauler is always given the notice required to make a timely pickup.


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